Patriots gridiron news: James Harrison proved he can still make an impact

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: James Harrison
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: James Harrison /

Veteran linebacker James Harrison made his New England Patriots debut count Sunday in the team’s 26-6 victory over the New York Jets.

It sure looks like James Harrison has something left in the tank.  On Sunday, the 39-year-old linebacker recorded 5 tackles and 2 sacks in his New England Patriots debut.  His performance helped his new team secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

So how did it feel for the 16-year veteran to play for a team that has been his rival for so many years?

Well, it didn’t feel much different at all says Harrison, who chalked it all up as God’s plan.

"“It felt good,” Harrison said following the game, as transcribed by WEEI.  “It’s like any other team.  It’s like [the media] going and reporting for a different news channel or different newspaper.  This is God’s doing.  I’m just a receiver of what he has planned.  I’m 39 years old and I’m still playing, so I’m extremely blessed.”"

With the way Harrison was flying around the field, he looked like he was still in his late 20s.  With fresh legs as part of only playing 40 total snaps with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots hope to benefit from Harrison’s rejuvenation.

If he can get to the quarterback the way he got to New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty in the highlight below, he will certainly help add an element to the Patriots’ defense that they’ve been searching for all season long.

Belichick compliments Harrison’s hard work

Although it was no surprise the New England Patriots signed James Harrison, it still raised eyebrows considering the way he forced his way out of Pittsburgh.

Will he disrupt the team’s chemistry?

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That is a risk Bill Belichick has taken in the past and a risk worth taken now, especially if Harrison continues to display the type of hard work and professionalism he has so far.

"“Yeah, James worked really hard,” Belichick said during his press conference following the game.  “He worked really hard to get things down and to handle the roles that he was in today.  Very professional, has a lot of experience but not in this system so he had to do a lot of things to try to acclimate himself to what we do, and terminology, and adjustments and so forth.  He really worked hard on that.  He got better every day.  You could see that through the course of the week.”"

It looks like James Harrison has worked his way to a few more snaps on the field come playoff time.

Patriots secure top seed

With the teams 26-6 victory over the Jets in the regular season finale, the New England Patriots secured the top seed in the AFC.  This means that once again, the road to the Super Bowl will go through Foxboro.

What it also means, is that the team will get an extra week of rest, which will hopefully result in getting players like James White, Chris Hogan, Rex Burkhead and Alan Branch health and back on the field.

Next: New England Patriots: 5 things need to happen for Super Bowl LII berth

While the Patriots don’t know who they will play, the divisional round matchup is already slated for Saturday, January 13 at 8:30 pm.